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July 31, 1997

KITAKANBARA, Japan (AP) _ Naoya Sugiyama shot a 5-under-par 67 in the opening round Thursday for a one-stroke lead in the NST Niigata Open.

Toru Suzuki was second.

``It’s the first time that I have been atop the leaderboard in my career,″ said Sugiyama, who has never won a tournament in six years as a pro.

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New auto racing track opens at Motegi

MOTEGI, Japan (AP) _ Honda Motor’s Twin Ring Motegi speedway, which will be the site of an Indy-car race in March, was dedicated Thursday.

``It’s a beautiful circuit, one of the most beautiful circuits in the world,″ said Jimmy Vasser, the defending PPPG CART World Series champion. ``I think what I like about the oval is it’s wide and smooth.″

Vasser cut the ribbon, officially opening the 1 1/2-mile oval about 75 miles northeast of Tokyo. He then drove an Indy car in a demonstration run along with six NASCAR drivers and four motorcycles.

The CART series, with 17 races this year, will expand to 19 in 1998 with the addition of Motegi and a street race in Houston.

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FIFA delays Ronaldo decision till September

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) _ Soccer’s world governing body, FIFA, put off until September a decision on setting the final transfer fee in Brazilian superstar Ronaldo’s move from FC Barcelona to Internazionale of Milan.

After the two sides failed to reach agreement earlier this week, FIFA said it would make its own proposal Wednesday. But it never happened.

``Inter Milan’s offer and Barcelona’s idea were too far apart, so FIFA decided not to make a proposal,″ FIFA spokesman Mario Schneider said Thursday.

He said the matter would be left to a special FIFA committee.

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TOKYO (AP) _ Former Red Sox Phil Clark and Tuffy Rhodes both homered again Thursday as the Kintetsu Ham Fighters beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 6-5.

Clark hit a three-run home run and Rhodes hit a two-run homer. Rhodes has 16 homers this season, two more than Clark.

Troy Neel doubled home the tying run as the Orix BlueWave edged the Seibu Lions 3-2.

Terry Bross (7-5), previously with the Chicago Cubs, gave up four hits over six innings as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Yakult Swallows 7-3.

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Penguins sign Werenka

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ The Pittsburgh Penguins signed free-agent Brad Werenka Thursday, bolstering a corps of defensemen that has been criticized for being too soft.

Werenka was voted the International Hockey League’s best defenseman last season and scored 20 goals in 82 games for Indianapolis. He previously played in the NHL for Chicago, Quebec and Edmonton.

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